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AlUla’s new archaeological research and conservation institute to help ‘reveal Arabia’s contribution to humanity’

DUBAI: To be located in AlUla amidst the ruins of the ancient North Arab kingdom of Dadan and as if to revive the dazzling past of this still enigmatic civilization, the recently announced Kingdom Institute, created under the auspices of the Commission Royale pour AlUla (RCU), is fast becoming AlUla’s global center for archaeological research and conservation.

Its most important buildings are intended to be carved themselves in the mountains in front of the archaeological site of Dadan while the design of the remaining buildings will be inspired by the archaeological structures discovered belonging to the Dadan civilization.

“Inspired by the Crown Prince’s vision for AlUla to protect 200,000 years of history, AlUla’s cultural legacy continues with the Kingdom Institute,” said Prince Badr bin Abdullah, Saudi Minister of Culture and Governor of the UCR, to Arab News.

“It will be a global center of knowledge, research and collaboration, exploring the frontiers of archeology and opening new careers for our community. The Institute will be a place of discovery and celebration as we unveil Arabia’s contribution to humanity.

Dadan, a civilization that dates back over 2,700 years and predates the Nabataean civilization as well as the Roman presence in the Arabian Peninsula, was once the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan kingdoms and is considered one of the most developed 1st cities millennium BCE from the Arabian Peninsula.

“The era of kingdoms” – the era of the Dadan, Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms around 1000 BCE to 106 CE – will be an area of ​​particular interest for the institute and indeed gives it its name, ”he said. said Munirah Almushawh, the archeology responsible for the investigation of the Institute of the Kingdom.

Almushawh is also the first female archaeologist to co-lead an archaeological project in Saudi Arabia. She is working on the Khaybar Long-Duree Archaeological Project, a major archaeological project southwest of AlUla, which is under development with the French National Center for Scientific Research.

“Out of respect for the architectural style of the neighborhood, the permanent home of the institute will be a red sandstone structure echoing the monumental works of the Dadan civilization,” Almushawh said.

The design of the Institute of the Kingdoms will be inspired by the works of the Dadan civilization with the most important buildings carved into the mountains in front of the archaeological site of Dadan. (Provided)

The institute, which is part of AlUla recently announced “Time Travel: A Master Plan for the Preservation and Sustainable Development of Saudi Arabia’s Former AlUla”, is expected to complete its first phase of construction by 2023 and open to visitors by 2030, which is also the year of Arabia’s Vision 2030. It forecasts an attendance of 838,000 people by 2035.

“In a spirit of co-construction and co-development of research with its partner Agence Française de Développement de l’Alula (AFALULA), specialized and original research programs have been set up with the best experts in the region in order to write the Neolithic to today history of this unique heritage gem, ”Ingrid Perisse, AFALULA Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Projects Manager, told Arab News.

“The interdisciplinary research teams that take turns on the different sites have made AlUla the most important archaeological center in the Arabian Peninsula.”

The design of the Institute of the Kingdoms will be inspired by the works of the Dadan civilization with the most important buildings carved into the mountains in front of the archaeological site of Dadan. (Provided)

Perisse said the scientific community will come together for this project.

“Historians, geo-archaeologists, ceramologists, numismatists and other specialists in this scientific community bring their knowledge and expertise to participate in the training of the next generation of Saudi archaeologists,” she said.

History and heritage are at the heart of the Dadan district and its future Institute of the Kingdom. With its enduring sense of mystery, perpetuated by its magnetic red rocks, the institute intends to pay homage to Saudi Arabia’s past as well as the role AlUla will play in the Kingdom’s future.

The Kingdom Institute will be built on a site of 28,857 square meters. Inside will be a multidisciplinary and innovative science center where visitors and residents can study from seven basic archaeological programs, including conservation and preservation of rock art, inscriptions and languages, the prehistoric and historical agriculture and sustainability, connectivity and archaeological archives, in addition to seven major disciplines, from research to the field, publishing and exhibition management.

Extensive aerial studies of AlUla, carried out by a team from the University of Western Australia, provide a more complete picture of its rich archaeological heritage, including this tomb at Sharaan. (Provided)

The Institute will provide access to the study of 200,000 years of history and prehistory as part of a survey of 22,675 square meters. Already, the Institute has started to prepare 15 research and conservation missions.

One example is the recent discovery of mustatils, fence-like structures built by people thousands of years ago in what is now Saudi Arabia by stacking rocks to form low walls which then have been formed into rectangles.

While the existence of mustatils was previously known, the more than 1,000 mustatils that the URC-commissioned team recently recorded are approximately twice as many as previously identified and were the largest study on mustatils to date. .

“We have only started to tell the hidden story of the ancient kingdoms of northern Arabia,” José Ignacio Gallego Revilla, UCR’s executive director for archeology, heritage research and conservation, told Arab News.

“There is much more to come as we reveal the depth and breadth of the region’s archaeological heritage, which for decades has been under-represented, but which will finally have the showcase it deserves at the Institut du Kingdom.”

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